Dougie Hamilton is out indefinitely and it's a huge loss for the Carolina Hurricanes. He’s been the team’s best player thus far, logs the most ice time and has been one of the league’s top defensemen. But even with the injury, there shouldn’t be a move made in an effort to replace him in the short-term.
Jaccob Slavin is a rock on the blue line, while Brett Pesce and Joel Edmundson are both solid and Haydn Fleury has continued to develop (though it has resulted in Trevor van Riemsdyk fighting just for ice time). But a key for the Hurricanes in the aftermath of the Hamilton injury could be Jake Gardiner.
Gardiner, who’s had a rough transition in joining the Hurricanes overall, has five points in his last nine games and an even rating. Jake Gardiner’s purpose is that he adds offense- nobody said he’d be defensively sound and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he’s not. However he hasn’t had a great opportunity thus far with Carolina to play his game and add that offense, averaging just 16:28 per game, which is a huge reduction in playing time from his 21:13 last season. Especially after having spent time on the third pair for part of the year, an increased role with the Hamilton injury will allow Gardiner to play his game and create offense.
In the two games since the Hamilton injury, Gardiner’s ice time has skyrocketed to almost 22 minutes per game, which is over a five minute per game increase. Let’s see what he does with it. I’m not saying he can replace Hamilton by any means but if his offensive game comes back around with the increased opportunity, he can certainly help to fill the void.
If current roster options don’t satisfy, the next option should be to look to Charlotte. Jake Bean has been huge offensively for the Checkers, where he has 31 points in 39 games and even Chase Priskie could be worthy of an NHL shot sooner rather than later. It’s certainly worth getting a better look at prospects before making a move.
Then if you do make a trade, do you really think it’s going to be for a top-four defenseman, after essentially saying “we’re fine defensively” and moving Justin Faulk prior to the start of the season? So at that point we’re probably looking at giving up assets to add a depth defenseman, which the Hurricanes already have in Fleury and van Riemsdyk, who have both shown to be capable defenders.
Carolina’s organizational depth on defense is a strength and for the Hurricanes to get spooked and rush a decision to add a defenseman would be a short-sighted mistake.
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